Tea pets are small cute decorative figures you may have seen on a tea tray during a tea ceremony. They've been around since the Song dynasty 宋朝 (960–1279) and are often molded into Chinese historical characters, zodiac animals, or mythical creatures like the dragon.
People believe that tea pets bring good luck fortune and happiness. Many tea pets are made of yixing terracotta which is a very porous material and absorbs the oils from the tea and over time will produce a shiny patina. When brewing premium tea it is ritual to rinse the tea leaves before the first infusion to remove any impurities. And instead of wasting this first rinse we will often pour it over our tea pet and continue to pour any leftover tea from the ceremony.
There are some that are functional which help carry lids, some are illuminating which help tell you the temperature of water and others they're just plain cute. Once you find your tea pet it becomes such a big part of your tea ceremony. So make sure that you nourish it with your favorite teas.